Long time no diary.
And sorry about that: it may have seemed like time off, but it was all rather like launching a Moon Mission on four months' notice, including building the space center and putting your own heinie in the capsule. My apologies.
I rejoin you here today to propose that the Debt Ceiling "talks" have been viewed almost entirely through the wrong end of the telescope. We - this President included - have nuanced ourselves to death about Chained Colas and 14th Amendment remedies, while burying the macro viewpoint: What is the purpose of this or any other nation if not to defend its people?
The illusion promulgated by the fearful and the exploitative on the Right is that "defense" means militaristic expenditures and adventures, or, at least, spies and Homeland Security and often suppression of dissent.
In fact, defending the people of a nation is, at its heart, about keeping them alive and, in whatever economic system they find themselves, at least afloat. It is not only the primary responsibility of any government, but it is also the only true rationalization for any government.
This is what I'm going to speak to in a Special Comment on tonight's edition of Countdown. I hope to expand the view even a little more: that the only true mark any of us leaves on this earth is whether we improved or hurt the lives of the others around us.
That goes for a President as well.
And that is why the social safety net that this country has stitched together, piece by iece, over 75 years, against the unceasing protests of the greedy and the ensconced and the divisive and the xenophobic, that is why the social safety net is this country's greatest accomplishment, and the greatest evidence that every once in awhile "American Exceptionalism" is based not in flag-waving but in reality.
This is not a Comment going into intricate, Krugmanesque analysis of the impact of the proposed "trimming" of Social Security on those who are now 70 but will later be 95 (valuable though that is). Although Sam Stein's chilling report about a possible increase in the minimum age for Medicare eligibility is a component, this is about what we are supposed to be doing, and what a President - a President of a government (to turn to a cliche in hopes that its real meaning will fight its way to the surface) of the people, by the people - is supposed to be doing.
This is addressed to President Obama directly:
And if this deal with the Republicans takes a dollar away from those people who do not have a dollar to spare, while preserving the millions for those who have millions more if this deal keeps intact funding the mechanisms we have for killing people while cutting the mechanisms we have for keeping people alive and healthy, then it is a betrayal of everything that makes this country great.
This is, obviously, something that should be in the hearts of all of us, all the time. Just as obviously, it is not, and I feel it is the time it be said, loudly and clearly. It is also obviously more than a mere American issue. This is about the world, and our species.
But we have to start somewhere, and I suspect the place we need to start is by reminding President Obama of these truths - and right now.
We'll also have the latest on the debt talks and Rep. Raul Grijalva's reaction, and the Arizona and Wisconsin recalls with AZ State Senator Kyrsten Sinema, and we'll be starting tonight with extended coverage of Rupert Murdoch's scandal, which has already grown to include 9/11 Victims, Prince Charles, and the medical records of a former Prime Minister's son's Cystic Fibrosis, with Murdoch biographer Michael Wolff and John Dean. By the time I get on the tube tonight this could easily have extended to Rupert hacking into his own phones.